THE BENEFITS TO ABRAHAM AND HIS FLESHLY SEED
OF THE NATION OF ISRAEL UNDER THE COVENANT OF CIRCUMCISION
Part 1 and 2
Abraham, the father of the faithful (Rom. 4:11), became the father of two lines of descent. He is the ancestor of a multitude of fleshly descendants called Israe1, or Jews, besides other nations by Hagar and Keturah. But according to the New Testament Abraham is also the father of a host of spiritual children (Rom. 4:17, 18; 2:28, 29). Galatians 3:7, 9 -- "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham... So then they which be or faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." But what were the benefits to Abraham and his fleshly seed under the covenant of Circumcision? Genesis 15 gives the answer: (1) Divine friendship (vs. 1); (2) The promise of a son (vs. 2); (3) The promise of a multitudinous seed (vs 5); and (4) The promise of the land of Canaan (vs 7), the boundaries of which are given in verses 18-21. Were these promises fulfilled to Abraham and to his fleshly seed? They were indeed. Abraham enjoyed the Divine friendship (Isa. 41:8: Jas. 2:23). Isaac was born when Abraham was past age (Gen. 21:1-7; Rom. 4:17-19). As to the multitude of descendants, the Scriptures say it was fulfilled even in Moses' day (Deu. 1:9; 10:22). See also 1 Kings 4:20; Neh. 9:23; and Heb. 11:12. But what about the land? Did they ever possess it according to the boundary given in Genesis 15? The Scriptures tell us they did! The literal possession of the land of Canaan by Abraham's fleshly seed after some 400 years' servitude in Egypt (Gen. 15:13), and their restoration to the land after 70 years' captivity in Babylon have already been fulfilled, and both of these were in accordance to the will of God by His own direct intervention.
Part I - Israel's Possession of the Land
In Genesis 15:13-18 the Lord told Abraham that his posterity would not possess the land until they had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years. This fixes the date of possessing the land with their deliverance by Moses from Egyptian bondage, and the subsequent conquest of Canaan under. Joshua, the successor or Moses. Stephen confirms the fulfilling of the land grant promise to be at the time of Israel's leaving Egypt to return to Canaan (see Acts 7:17, 18, 35, 36).
Joshua testified that they conquered ''the whole land" (Joshua 11:23), possessed it, and dwelt therein. Joshua 21:43, 45 -- "And the Lord gave unto Israel ALL THE LAND which he sware to give unto their fathers; and THEY POSSESSED IT, and DWELT therein ... There FAILED NOT OUGHT of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; ALL CAME TO PASS." Joshua declared that the Lord gave them the right to all, and the actual possession of the greatest part of it, and the power to possess the rest as soon as it was needful and convenient for them, which was by degrees, when their numbers increased, and the absolute dominion of all the people remaining in it. Exodus 23:29, 30 -- "I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land." (Compare also Deu. 7:22). Joshua's dying testimony was to the same effect; Joshua 23: 14 -- "And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth; and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, THAT NOT ONE THING HATH FAILED of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; ALL ARE COME TO PASS UNTO YOU, AND NOT ONE THING HATH FAILED THEREOF." It is said that Joshua did not wholly subdue the enemies of the land, and therefore under the Israel of the future all the enemies must be driven out, and all the land occupied before a valid fulfillment of the promise can be established. However, it was because of their disobedience, that the "Lord left those nations, without driving them out HASTILY; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua" (Judges 2 :20-23).
Nevertheless, under the reign of David, the Lord subdued these enemy kings who had infringed on Israel's territory, "as he (David) went to RECOVER his border at the river Euphrates" (2 Samuel 8:1-3). To show that Israel regained ALL of the original promise of land, it was said of Solomon, David's son, that, "Solomon reigned over ALL kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border o:f Egypt ... For he had dominion over ALL the region on this side of the river" (1 Kings 4:21,24). See also 2 Chronicles 9:26.
Some four centuries later Jeremiah likewise testified they had come in and possessed it. Jeremiah 32:22,23a -- "And hast given them this land, which thou didst swear to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey; And they CAME IN and POSSESSED IT ... " Approximately a century and a half later, Nehemiah added his testimony that Israel "POSSESSED THE LAND" (Nehemiah 9:23,24), and that the Lord had "PERFORMED" his words (Neh. 9:7,8).
In summary, God promised possession of the land of Canaan to Abraham's fleshly seed after they would return from Egyptian servitude. Moses, Joshua, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, and Stephen all testify this promise has been fulfilled! They lost part of the land temporarily under the Judges, but David recovered it, and Solomon reigned over ALL of the original territory set forth in the promise. Thus the promise of the land its possession by Israel, has been fulfilled. The Lord was under no obligation to fulfill it again the second time.
Part 2 - Israel's Restoration to the Land
The prophet Isaiah gives a remarkable and far reaching prophecy concerning the Lord setting His hand "again the SECOND TIME to RECOVER the REMNANT of his people" in chapter 11:10-16. Dispensational premillennialists believe that this prophetic passage, particularly verse 11, proves there will be a future NATIONAL RESTORATION OF ISRAEL to the land of Palestine AFTER the Second Advent. Some even consider that the present day return of Jews to Palestine in unbelief and the constituting of Israeli a political commonwealth among the nations in our time is an initial fulfillment of this prophecy.
What is to be understood by the statement "the Lord shall set his hand AGAIN THE SECOND TIME to recover the remnant of his people" (Isaiah 11:11)? The first time, to which this word SECOND relates seems to be, either (1) The deliverance out of Egypt, as many Jewish and Christian interpreters understand it. Then the second deliverance would be that from Babylon after their captivity there for 70 years. The argument supporting this view is that the prophet Isaiah reckons ONE recovery has ALREADY taken place; otherwise he would not say "AGAIN". Moreover, the return from Babylon had not yet taken place when Isaiah wrote these words; therefore he could not have had THAT return in mind as the one which had ALREADY occurred. Inasmuch as the prophet lived possibly a century and a half BEFORE the return from Babylon, that recovery could well have been the subject of this prediction in Isaiah 11:11. Isaiah 11: 16 seems to seal the matter: -- "And there shall be a highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of EGYPT." The recovery of Israel from Egyptian bondage is the FIRST time and the return from Assyrio-Babylonian captivity is the SECOND time. Or, (2) that the FIRST time refers to the deliverance out of Babylon; and then this SECOND deliverance must be in the days of the Messiah, which seems more probable for the following reasons: (1) Because that first deliverance is supposed to be, like the second, a deliverance of the remnant of this people from several countries into which they were dispersed; whereas that out of Egypt was a deliverance not of a remnant, but of the whole nation, and that out of Egypt only. (2) Because this second deliverance was universal, extending to the generality of the outcasts and dispersed ones, both of Israel, or the ten tribes, and of Judah, or the two tribes, as is evident from verses 12, 13; whereas that out of Babylon reached only to the two tribes and to some few of the ten tribes which were mixed with them, as is acknowledged, both by Jews and Christians. ( 3) Because this second deliverance was given them in the days of the Messiah, and did accompany or follow the conversion of the Gentiles, as is evident from verses 9 and 10; whereas that out of Babylon was long before the coming of the Messiah, and the calling of the Gentiles.
The first time then refers to their restoration from captivity in Babylon, where Jeremiah had prophesied their captivity for seventy years and that afterward He would restore them to their land (Jer. 27:22, 29:10). Isaiah named the king who would let them return to Jerusalem, approximately 150 years before that king was born (Isa. 44:28; 45: 1, 13). Cyrus, king of Persia, granted the Jews permission to RETURN to their homeland as Isaiah said he would and that before Cyrus was born (Ezra 1:1-3). The books of Ezra and Nehemiah record Israel's restoration to their homeland. The return from Babylon was gradual, and occupied the long period of approximately 90 years from the decree of Cyrus, B.C. 536 to B.C. 446, when it was completed under Nehemiah. Therefore, the full return from Babylon was on the Old Testament side of every Old Testament prophet except Malachi, who naturally says nothing about it, nor about any other future restoration to their land. Albert Barnes asserts "the second time" in Isaiah 11: 11 refers to a future recovery after the return from captivity in Babylon and in the days of the Messiah.
''THE SECOND TIME. This word properly means, as it is here translated, the second time, implying that the prophet here speaks of a deliverance which would resemble, in some respects, a FORMER deliverance or recovery. By the former recovery to which he here refers, he cannot mean the deliverance from Egypt under Moses, for at that time there was no recovery from scattered and distant nations. Besides, if THAT was the reference by the former deliverance, then that here mentioned as the •second' deliverance would be that :from the Babylonish captivity. But on the return from that captivity, there was NOT a collecting of the Jews from all the nations here specified. When the Jews were led back to Judea under Nehemiah, there is no .record of their having been collected from 'Egypt', or from 'Cush', or from 'the islands of the sea'. It is evident, therefore, I think, that by the former deliverance to which the prophet here alludes -- the deliverance which was to precede that designated here as the SECOND -- he refers to the return from the captivity of Babylon; and by the 'second' to some still more future recovery that should take place under the administration of the Messiah. This is further confirmed from the fact that the whole scope of the prophecy points to that future period."